On Sunday the Houston Texans rolled out ILB and special teams standout Brian Peters at kicker for their opening kickoff. It wasn’t that Nick Novak, their normal kicker, was hurt. It was a strategic move by Bill O’Brien to get an 11th coverage guy on the field.
The kick worked. The Vikings were stopped short of the 20-yard line. The Texans weren’t able to do the Peters experiment later in the game because he left with a quad injury. We have not heard how that injury occurred.
This is not the first time the Texans, under Bill O’Brien, have run out some different formations and players in unorthodox positions or plays.
Offensive lineman Kendall Lamm lines up at tight end as much as Ryan Griffin.
Arian Foster threw a touchdown pass in 2014 (Excuse the music).
J.J. Watt caught three touchdown passes in 2014.
Jonathan Grimes or Cecil Shorts in the Wild Cat.
And now Brian Peters at kicker.
As Cody Stoots asked during Mike Meltser & Seth Payne’s Facebook Live on Monday, “What will bill O’Brien pull out of his bag of tricks next?” Luckily for everyone, I have been able to look into the bag of tricks, survey what is in there, and while I can confirm that O’Brien’s bag is in fact valour, it also contains many more than just five tricks. These are the five tricks I saw that I think should be pulled out next by the Texans head coach.
1. Shane Lechler Reverse Pass To DeAndre Hopkins
We all know DeAndre Hopkins can catch passes from anyone, so why not surprise everyone with a reverse to the oldest player on the field and let him throw a pass to the best receiver. Lechler has been the emergency quarterback for the Texans for a while. He was a fantastic high school quarterback before switching to punter at Texas A&M and then growing into a future Hall of Famer. This play would come out of the normal offense, not with Lechler out there to punt either. No one would see it coming.
Best Outcome: Lechler fins Hopkins for a 65-yard touchdown (45 yard run after the catch)
Worst Outcome: Lechler throws a pick-six to a floating safety in coverage and gets blown up by a 275lb defensive lineman on the return, breaking his leg and effectively ending his Hall of Fame Career.
2. Vince Wilfork Handles Holding Duties
Everyone knows Vince Wilfork has soft hands. He can handle Jon Weeks snaps and get that hold down for Nick Novak on a 40-something yard field goal try. Bill O’Brien’s bag of tricks aren’t all for a strategic advantage, sometimes you have to remind the team, this is a game, have some fun, let the nose tackle hold.
Best Outcome: Laces out. 4-points for the fantasy team!
Worst Outcome: Snap bounces off Vince Wilfork’s hands and he has to pick it up and run for a first down. WAIT, This is now the best Case Scenario.
Best Outcome: Snap bounces off Vince Wilfork’s hands and he has to pick it up and run for a first down.
Worst Outcome: Laces out. But Novak misses it anyway.
3. Osweiler Used To Block Field Goal
He is 6’7″ tall and used to play basketball. The unutilized skill for Brock Osweiler is his height (it’s not helping his quarterbacking so far this season) so O’Brien is ready to use that height to gain an advantage on special teams. The Texans always preach about being top quality in all phases of the game, and having a 6’7″ guy in there to block field goals could change the game.
Best Outcome: Osweiler blocks a game-winning field goal and the Texans win the game thanks to his arm, for getting in the way, not for throwing the ball to people.
Worst Outcome: Osweiler gets the block, but the ball breaks his finger and he misses the rest of the season.
4. Wild Cat Sextuple Option
Here is the play: Five down lineman and ALL running backs on the field with Braxton Miller taking the snap. Lamar Miller, Tyler Ervin are split out wide on the line of scrimmage with Alfred Blue, Johnathan Grimes, and Jay Prosch all flanking Braxton Miller behind the o-line. What would the defense do? How would they handle it? Who gets the ball!? Run a weave option with all six guys and the confusion makes the play successful.
Best Outcome: The defense runs into each other, gets confused and Tyler Ervin takes the pitch (after running a reverse on the snap to join the option) and runs with it in the open field for a touchdown!
Worst Outcome: Braxton sees Prosch in open space and throws it to the fullback, who fumbles the ball and then kicks it into the hands of an oncoming defender who runs it back for the touchdown.
5. Jon Weeks Annexation Of Puerto Rico
Straight from the movie Little Giants, Pro-Bowler Jon Weeks heads under center to snap for a field goal. THEN SHIFT! Lechler goes under center, Novak in the backfield and Weeks snaps it to Lechler and they run the Annexation of Puerto Rico.
Best Outcome: As weeks is rumbling towards the end zone he is tackled but accidently throws the ball over his head where Ryan Griffin (in on the blocking team) snags it and runs towards the score. As he’s about to get tackled he spins back to see Novak running behind him and pitches the kicker the ball who runs in for the touchdown to beat the hated Cowboys.
Worst Outcome: No one is fooled and Jon Weeks get tackled immediately and the Cowboys get to be the only team in Texas and Jerry Jones now owns Bob McNair’s gas station.
Or the worst outcome is the Panthers using it on the Texans…
Who knows if we’ll ever see any of these plays in action. Maybe that I’ve now revealed them, Bill O’Brien will never pull them out of his bag of tricks. We’ll just have to wait and see. The next chance to see what the Texans head coach does though will be under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football.